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Pres.-elect Urges Cooperative Labor-Mgmt. Ties

Posted January. 24, 2008 08:52,   


President-elect Lee Myung-bak urged Wednesday cooperative ties between labor and management for the sake of the national economy.

“Some people seemingly misunderstood my ‘business-friendly’ policy, which is to embrace both labor and management,” he said. “Labor and management are indispensable to one another.”

Lee made his comments in a meeting with Lee Yong-deuk, chairman of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions in Seoul. The president-elect promised to consider regular policy meetings with the federation and urged progressive cooperation to revive the economy.

Lee Myung-bak will visit the Korean Federation of Trade Unions Tuesday next week.

○ ‘Biz friendly means labor friendly’

The president-elect said he is aware of criticism that the incoming administration is anti-labor, but that his “business-friendly” policy does not necessarily mean “businessman friendly.”

“I first visited a businessman after my election was confirmed and promised to run a business-friendly government,” he said. “But some apparently have a misunderstanding that I will run an anti-labor government.”

He also urged labor’s active support for his policies and efforts, saying he won the election by a large margin thanks to union support.

“Your unions officially organized a policy alliance and supported my election campaign,” he told the labor leader. “Since we are in the same boat, I think I should have paid my customary visit to management first and asked for their assistance.”

○ Raising Productivity to Overcome Crisis

Expressing worry over economic uncertainty, including the increasing instability in the financial market, the president-elect asked labor for its aggressive support.

“The global economy is facing numerous challenges, with oil prices exceeding 100 dollars per barrel,” he said. “It will soon reach 120 dollars a barrel, making things much harder for countries completely dependent on raw materials from abroad. In this respect, the only way we can overcome this hardship is to have labor and management join forces.”

On job creation, he said, “To maintain existing employment, companies should succeed and flourish. We have three million firms this country. If each company lays off one employee, three million workers will end up unemployed.”

“Despite such difficulty, if two companies hire one employee, this results in 1.5 million new employees. Transparent management is essential for businesses, but enhancing productivity 10 to 20 percent by labor can also greatly contribute to overcoming the challenge we face.”

The labor federation chairman Lee suggested regular policy meetings between his organization and the government, including the presidential office. He also proposed working-level policy meetings between the conservative Grand National Party’s policy coordination chairman and the federation’s secretary-general. The president-elect positively responded to the two ideas.

The meeting proceeded in a congenial atmosphere as Lee Myung-bak joked about Jang Seok-chun, the chairman of the Federation of Korean Metal Workers Trade Union who will succeed Lee Yong-deuk as the labor federation leader.

“I had to fight fierce battles to become a leader, but look how easily he got the post with no effort,” the president-elect said.